Saturday, July 15, 2023


The European Commission’s appointment of an American economist to a top job in its competition department has prompted a backlash from French politicians, with the digital minister “inviting the Commission to re-examine the matter”.

The EU executive announced Fiona Scott Morton’s appointment as chief economist in DG COMP, the Commission authority responsible for ensuring fair competition within the single market, on Tuesday (11 July).

However, Scott Morton’s career as a consultant for a series of digital giants, including Apple and Microsoft, and her nationality has resulted in criticism in Paris. Of the 32,000 people working for the Commission, around 1,900 are third-country nationals and are mainly local agents established in foreign countries....

Centre-left MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, who headed the French Socialist list ahead of the 2019 elections, said that “appointing an American citizen who worked for Amazon and Meta as chief economist of DG Competition is unacceptable”.

“We have worked hard to regulate GAFAM [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft], not to entrust the application of these rules to their lobbyist. No way,” he concluded on Twitter.

Manon Aubry MEP, co-chair of The Left group in the European Parliament, said the situation “raises an obvious question of conflict of interest”....

Louis Aliot, one of the leaders of Marine Le Pen’s party, the far-right Rassemblement National, condemned Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for “giving a key position to American interests against the interests of European companies and peoples”.

Contacted by EURACTIV France, a series of government advisers from the prime minister’s services, the Elysée, and three ministries first declined to respond.

Renew MEP and former Minister for EU Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, questioned the appropriateness of Scott Morton’s appointment, calling it “disappointing”.

“So Commissioner Vestager hasn’t found any Europeans who are worthy of being chief economist?”, Loiseau tweeted.

According to a senior European official quoted by Le Monde, the American “was the best of the eleven candidates”.

Macron’s Renaissance MP Antoine Armand described the European executive’s choice as “absurd” and “inconceivable”, given that the conflicts of interest that seem to be emerging mean that the new chief economist of DG COMP “will have to withdraw from major dossiers”....

GAFAM: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft. Remember Stanford, the first link below.

There's no freedom of speech in Europe, but America sees freedom of speech as paired with freedom of property. The US government and "liberal" technocratic managers, Scott Morton and her peers, are perfectly happy to have private monopolies, their past and future employers, control what people read and say. Algorithms can feed the lowest instincts their captive audience, free from liability. The government gets censorship without having to taking credit.

Taibbi is a grifter; the "Twitter files" were mostly nothing new, but as hype-man for billionaires, and making a good living at it, he's helped to obscure the bigger issue. 

repeat: Zuckerberg describes Facebook policy, "penalizing borderline content", shadowbanning, in 2018.

I don't read Stoller much. Out of curiosity I googled his name and Taibbi's

Twitter, prior to Musk’s takeover, had been caught multiple times playing fast and loose with user data. So it signed a consent decree with the FTC in 2010 committing the firm to lots of internal work regarding data privacy and security. It then violated that decree in the 2010s, and so had to pay $150 million fine in 2022, and redouble its commitment to data privacy. When Musk bought the firm, he fired most of the people in charge of FTC compliance, and probably unwittingly gave user data access to third parties. Which is likely both illegal and Twitter’s third violation of the law. That’s the kind of thing that can incur a huge fine, as well as penalties against individuals in charge of decision-making. And guess who makes the decisions at Twitter? Elon Musk.

During the subcommittee hearing, which revolved around Hunter Biden’s laptop-style scandals, participants occasionally veered into the FTC. (Jordan released a silly mostly ignored report pretending there’s some connection, my org put out a rebuttal.) And no one seemed to understand why the FTC would police Twitter’s violation of the law, instead chalking it up to some sort of conspiracy to censor conservatives. (Taibbi, after attacking the FTC, didn’t seem to realize there had been a consent decree.)

Not that there aren’t conspiracies, but the FTC policing Twitter over privacy violations isn’t one of them. Anyway, Senator Ted Cruz ad Jordan are investigating the FTC. That’s not going to go anywhere, because there’s no scandal. But Musk is going after the FTC via Jordan for a reason - he realizes Twitter has a legal problem and may be on the hook for some serious penalties. 

Stoller recommends Taibbi on Substack, for the same reason he defends Hawley: he can't see the grift. He's an honest nationalist who knows how to count: a Keynesian China hawk. 
repeat, on Bidenomics, from neoliberalism to mercantilism, which in the end neoliberalism always was.

Americans are conformist: opinions are like assholes; two things you don't talk about in a bar are politics and religion, three if you add money; the web is for talking to your friends. Individualism leads to its opposite. The second link is to Jed Purdy on Tocqueville; by accident or luck the first includes Stoller, and Taibbi—I'd forgotten—on Joe Rogan, and David Dayen, all on banning targeted advertising. 

I've alway referred to the flattening effect of individualism as resulting in an inability to judge A from B. If everyone is dancing to their own tune they're all equally inarticulate: the articulate being defined by the existence of a common form or language. But before that, public conformity begins in the need not to start a fight, and less in individuals than the coexistence of tribes. But then the tribes too begin to fade, and then recreated as artificial, overdetermined "intentional" communities, "social bonds are construed as a matter of taste and choice rather than of obligation" as Streeck describes it, 250[?] years after the first utopian community, the first revolutionary cosplay.

Taibbi and Stoller are more examples of the nostalgia of contemporary American politics. 

Press briefing, Nov. 28, 2022, state pressure to censor is state censorship. The whole exchange is obscene. I wonder who the researcher at Stanford is.
Q    Just a question about Twitter. You know, there’s a researcher at Stanford who says that this is a critical moment, really, in terms of ensuring that Twitter does not become a vector for misinformation.  I mean, are you concerned about the — you know, Elon Musk says there’s more and more subscribers coming online.  Are you concerned about that?  And what tools do you have?  Who is it at the White House that is really keeping track of this?

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